Plastics News reporter Frank Esposito gathered the following items at TPE Topcon 2003, held Sept. 23-24 in Akron, Ohio.
Economist foresees plastic growth in '04
Economist Bill Wood anticipates that the plastics market and overall U.S. economy will post growth of 4.5-5 percent in 2004.
``We'll see a cyclical rebound next year,'' said Wood, president of Mountaintop Economics & Re- search Inc. in Greenfield, Mass. ``But plastics will finish 2003 down 7-8 percent from its 2000 peak. A lot of increased demand for plastics products is being filled by products not made in the [United States].''
Resin makers will be helped in 2004 by natural gas prices, which should drop to the $3.50-$4 range.
``The resin guys that are left can be profitable at that price,'' Wood said. ``They've already figured out what to do. But there's still a lot more productivity to be squeezed out of the [resin] system.''
Wood added that the current U.S. economic crunch needs to be placed in context.
``This isn't the first time the country has faced an economic crisis,'' he said.
``During the Revolutionary War, some people thought we couldn't survive without the mother country and that we'd starve to death. That obviously didn't happen.''
Polymer Exchange adds compounding
Akron-based recycler Polymer Exchange Inc. added compounding to its services earlier this year.
The 80-employee firm now produces recycled grades of talc- and glass-filled polypropylene compounds on one single-screw extrusion line, with typical lot sizes ranging from 5,000-10,000 pounds, according to Vice President Jerry Robinson.
Polymer Exchange hopes to add recycled polystyrene compound grades by the end of the year, Robinson added. Plans to add a twin-screw extruder also are in the works.
Local businessman Doug Walter founded Polymer Exchange as a film, scrap and rubber recycler.
Eliokem expanding additives production
Eliokem Inc. could begin making commercial quantities of rubber additives for the PVC market at its Akron plant by mid-2004.
The firm's Sunigum-brand additives already have been made in 10,000-pound lots in Akron and soon could be in commercial production, said senior chemist Len Horst. The products have been made at Eliokem's plant in Le Havre, France, for more than a decade and imported into North America. They offer a lower-cost alternative material for gasket and seal applications.
Eliokem also makes Chemigum-brand additives - which the firm said can reduce plasticizer migration and offer better compression set, tear strength and tensile elongation.
Eliokem is based in Villejust, France.